Sometimes it’s nice to explore not too far from home. Sometimes it’s what is possible.
Student-teacher conferences fell on my birthday this year, so we decided to make the best of it with a two-night stay in downtown Colorado Springs. We booked a room at the newly-opened Kinship Landing—but we went for a Jr. Suite rather than splashing out on an actual suite.
The Kinship Landing owners claim they are not a hostel, but they offer bunks in shared rooms, so I’m not convinced. Many of the hostels we visited in Europe offered nice private rooms (sometimes even with en-suite bathrooms) similar to those at Kinship Landing.
Maureen checked in first, since I needed to be at work until 8 pm. She had a little trouble finding the small parking lot—which cost $16 extra per night and was limited to one car per room. The ho(s)tel had emailed the room code (no need for keys), so she just went upstairs and settled in. When I arrived later, I had to find street parking and figure out how to pay for it in the dark, as downtown COS charges for parking until 10 pm even on weekdays. While I was stressing about parking, I called Maureen and asked her to acquire a beverage at the bar downstairs.
Homa is the cafe and bar at Kinship Landing. The hours didn’t work for us this time, so our only visit was for the Okinawa Old Fashioned. Presentation was great, but the flavor was a little too bitter for me. I’d prefer a bit more of the Leopold Bros. Maraschino Liqueur, which I could not detect (COVID after-effects?).
I really wanted to like the lodgings. However, our room was vibrationally noisy (physical plant?) and I did not sleep well despite the high-quality mattress, bedding, and pillows. Having the only sink in the room located outside the toilet/shower area also meant disturbing one’s partner if you needed to get up during the night. Storage—three hangers and one luggage rack, along with some shelves I couldn’t reach—was less than optimal. I did like the shower, the toiletries, and the fact that they provided a kettle!
Since Homa was not open early enough for my pre-work breakfast, I ventured across Nevada Avenue to Loyal Coffee. I was concerned because the menu seemed to lack gluten-free options, but thrilled when they said that any of their toasts could be made on gluten-free bread. It was my birthday weekend, so I splurged on the avocado toast with an egg on top and a whole-milk latte. Delicious and highly recommended.
I had to work a few hours that day, which fortunately required only about a 7-minute commute. Maureen picked me up after work and we headed to Manitou Springs to ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which you can read about here.
Upon our descent, we went with our train companions to Alchemy in Old Colorado City. The main draws were gluten-free fish and chips, and duck. Maureen and I shared one of each. Both my brother and my cousin had the fish and chips. Although the fish portion was a little small (not inappropriately for the price) the taste was great. Maureen and I went up to the bar to check out the whiskey selection, since it is an Irish pub… The only Powers whiskey was John’s Lane, a bottle of which lives in my brother’s collection, so I passed in favor of The Maple Leaf cocktail, made with local 1350 spirits and containing an actual leaf. Yum (not the leaf). Maureen chose a shot of Yellow Spot, a new-to-us Irish whiskey that is aged for 12 years in a series of three casks. In the “spirit” of modern consolidation, it originates from the same County Cork distillery that produces Jameson, Powers, and Redbreast whiskeys (among others). It was quite fine.
Our companions needed to get back to Denver, but the birthday weekend had not yet included ice cream. A colleague had recommended Caffeinated Cow and it was not far from our downtown hotel, so we headed there next. I went with a combination of Rice Crispy (exactly what it sounds like) and Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Chip. Maureen had…coffee chocolate chip. The ice cream is made by Liks in Denver and was very good. I think Josh & John’s, which we visited earlier in October, currently tops my list for ice cream in Colorado Springs. But I’ll keep looking 🙂
I think we watched college football when we returned to the room. I was tired after working late on Thursday and playing hard on Friday. Sadly, the noise situation was no better than the first night and of course the sink hadn’t moved.
Our plan for Saturday was to hike before heading home. We didn’t rush in the morning, since it was fairly chilly outside. Maureen had breakfasted at King Chef on Friday (where she enjoyed the 1/4 Merl scramble) so she wanted to try the food at Loyal Coffee. I opted for the porridge and Maureen had toast (not gluten free :)) with a soft-boiled egg. We saw no reason to change our drink orders though, as the whole-milk latte was delicious in both carry-out and eat-in versions.
Sated, we cleaned up our room, packed the car, and headed for Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Most trails there do not allow dogs, so it was a good choice for a day when Rebbe wasn’t with us. We did a fairly short hike adjacent to NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain facility. We saw relatively few people and the scenery was lovely.
After the hike, we found a picnic area and revisited our Friday lunch of curry chicken salad with crackers, fruit, and chocolate. It doesn’t get much better.
The birthday weekend was so good that I almost forgot I had to work 12 hours on my actual birthday. Lesson repeated—make the most of the situation in which you find yourself. If you can’t have a nice cruise or bicycle tour or fancy dinner, perhaps you can at least eat locally, sleep somewhere new, and explore the region where you spend your days.